How much is the SNP going to harm Labour in the general election? Labour is already braced for a battering but a new set of polling from Lord Ashcroft shows just how great the SNP threat is. The Tory peer has polled 16,000 Scots in 14 Labour-SNP target seats and two Lib Dem seats — all areas that Ashcroft said voted yes for independence or the result was close.
His snapshot reveals that the SNP is ahead in 13 of the 14 Labour targets and ahead in both of the Lib Dem targets. This represents a 25 per cent swing in the Labour targets. If you want to see the results for each seat, use the dropdown box on this interactive chart (above for Labour, below for the Lib Dems) to look at how the vote has changed since the 2010 election.
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All of the 14 Labour seats seats currently have substantial majorities. All but one of these would be overturned if there was an election tomorrow. In Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill for example, Labour has a 21k majority but Ashcroft’s poll suggests a 27 per cent swing from Labour to the SNP. Just one of the seats, Glasgow North East, would remain in Labour control if there was an election tomorrow — albeit with a 24 per cent swing to the SNP.
If these results were repeated in May, both Labour’s Douglas Alexander (notionally Labour’s election co-ordinator) and the Lib Dem’s Danny Alexander would lose their seats. Former Labour frontbencher Tom Harris would also be out, as would Pamela Nash, in John Reid’s old seat Airdrie and Shotts.
In his analysis, Ashcroft reckons that if this sort of 20 per cent+ swing was repeated across the whole of Scotland, 35 of Labour’s 41 seats might be in trouble. But until his next round of polling — hopefully looking at the more unionist areas of Scotland — it is impossible to know whether there is a uniformed swing in all of the marginals.
These Scots have a clear idea of what they'd like to see as the election outcome. A Labour-SNP coalition is the most overall preferred option — 39 per cent of voters would back this outcome, as would 69 per cent of SNP supporters. Only 8 per cent would favour some kind of grand deal between the Tories and the SNP. Ed Miliband isn't well liked in Scotland either: in the Labour-SNP target seats, just 38 per cent would prefer him over David Cameron as Prime Minister. 44 per cent would prefer Cameron to remain PM, even if some are dissatisfied with the job he is doing.
Of course, there is a health warning with this polling: this is a snapshot of the battlefield right now. Just nine per cent have heard from Labour over the last few weeks and 13 per cent from the SNP. As the election campaigns gear up, both sides will be hitting the stump hard to make their case and with 92 days to go, plenty could change between now and election day.
But Scottish Labour should be under no illusions: the challenge for it is real and frightening. Ashcroft’s polling says that two thirds of the Labour-SNP switchers have definitely made up their minds not to vote for Labour in May. Plus, yesterday’s YouGov poll conducted across the whole of Scotland still has them them 20 points behind the SNP. As Alex aptly wrote, if Murphy and co do not their game, the evidence suggests they are doomed.
UPDATE: Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has released a statement on the polling:
'These polls show that Scottish Labour is well behind and has a big gap to close. But in the end the only people who will benefit from these polls are David Cameron and the Tories.
'It is a simple fact that the single biggest party gets to form the next government. The more seats the SNP get from Labour, the more likely it is the Tories will be the biggest party and David Cameron will get into government through the back door.
'That would be a terrible outcome for Scotland but it's what might happen if Scotland votes SNP.'
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